Stichdown has been a little loafer-happy recently, but hey—’tis the season. And don’t expect us to stop being shell cordovan-happy anytime soon—it’s one of the most beautiful, unique, and durable shoe leathers in the world.
It’s also damned expensive. Shell cordovan shoes and boots generally start around $800, and can go up plenty from there. But Mallorcan shoemaker Meermin’s entire mission is to sell you shoes at a price that you barely understand. And definitely pulled that off with these penny loafers in burgundy or green shell—which are available for the next ten days on a made-to-order pre-sale with an expected delivery date of July 2019.
The majority of shell you’ll see from, say, Alden (the biggest producer of shell shoes), Carmina (which puts wonderful shell colors on an impressive range of models) and Crockett & Jones (one of the pinnacles of old-school English shoe hand-crafting) is from Horween Leather Co. in Chicago. Horween’s shell is renowned for its exacting quality standards and the deep patina it develops as the shoes grow beautifully old.
Meermin’s shell, on the other hand, is from Japanese tannery Shinki Hikaku, located in Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe. Horween is the gold standard, but they also charge gold-standard prices for their shell. Meermin’s alternative sourcing route (and Shinki Hikaku is generally quite well respected) is a huge part of what allows them to get the price down to an otherwise unthinkable $350—and I’ve heard (and seen) good things about how they hold up and patina over time. And it’s nothing if not a handsomely designed shoe.